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I received my copy of this mini-expansion some days ago. After several plays using the new material this is what I think.

First of all, the expansion includes: 4 new characters, 4 new contract tiles, 15 gift tokens and one new small city tile.

The only real new aspect the expansion adds to the game are the gift tokens. These new tiles offer several actions. Some of these actions must be played immediately and some can be kept and played later just like a regular bonus action.

But the main aspect this expansion adds to the game (and the one I assume most people are looking for) are the 4 new characters.

This what they offer and what I think about them:


1-GUNJ KÖKÖCHIN

The player has two exclusive extra dice spots. One spot gives the player 2 camels and 2 goods (they can be identical) and the other spot lets the player travel one space.

What do I think? Adds up new strategies mainly on how to plan your round actions. Since these dice spots are only yours they become more useful by the end of the round when the main board is already full. Keep in mind this character allows you to travel twice per turn (including the board one) and makes you less dependant on the bazaar to get goods.


2-ALTAN ORD

The player gets extra bonuses when placing a trading posts. The more trading posts the player places the higher the bonus become.

What do I think? Even if at the beggining of the game the bonuses seem low, they become really powerfull when you reach the 6th and 7th trading post. On your last rounds, these extra bonuses can be crucial to close contracts. The last bonuses also let you build very nice combos, it feels like a chain reaction!



3-FRATE NICOLAO

At the beggining of each round, the player picks 3 gift tokens and keeps only one. The player is allowed to keep two gift tokens once per game.

What do I think? As I said there are two types of gift tokens, the ones you must play immediately and the ones you can keep and play whenever you want. I definately prefer the second type. The character becomes really enjoyable once you have a pair of good bonuses waiting for the perfect moment to be played. Advice: Dont wait too much to use the "take 2 gifts" option.



4-KHAN ARGHUN

The player receives 6 city cards that can be played anytime as a bonus action. No dice are used when playing them. The cards are played as if you had a dice with a six.

What do I think? This character depends totally on the cards he has. Instructions say clearly "show the 6 cards before choosing this character". If the cards include other options than scoring bonuses then this character can become very interesting.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I like the four characters, but the 1 to 4 numbering responds to my order of preferences.

The first two characters are the ones I enjoyed the most because they encourage you to do something I really enjoy in this game: Travelling. Gunj Kököchin makes travelling easier because of the extra dice spot, and Altan Ord makes travelling more rewarding because of the increasing bonus.

The other two (Fratre Nicolao and Khan Arghun) for me are less straight forward because they depend on what gifts or city cards you get. The luck factor here is higher. With Fratre Nicolao, even when choosing from 3 options, bonuses might come in a bad moment or not come when needed. With Khan Arghun some cards might not even be used at all.

I guess I prefer to know right from the beggining what my special power is offering me. So, even if I really did enjoy all the characters, I'd choose the first two over the rest.

And about this mini-expansion? Easy to answer: If you like this game there is no reason (none) why you should not get it. In other words: This is a present the designers decided to make us. Just accept it.

NOTE: Check the English rules here https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1453355/english-and-french-...
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trevor wolf

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Thanks for the review. I like the new characters. It's funny because I made a post how I thought they sounded weak, then i played them. They have gotten the highest scores in our games so far. I'm too ashamed to make a post saying are they too strong.....
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WD Yoga
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Robot74 wrote:


1-GUNJ KÖKÖCHIN

The player has two exclusive extra dice spots. One spot gives the player 2 camels and 2 goods (they can be identical) and the other spot lets the player travel one space.

What do I think? Adds up new strategies mainly on how to plan your round actions. Since these dice spots are only yours they become more useful by the end of the round when the main board is already full. Keep in mind this character allows you to travel twice per turn (including the board one) and makes you less dependant on the bazaar to get goods.
I think Kokochin allows you to travel at least three times? Twice using the main board (using her own dice, then the black dice) and then using her special power?

But I agree with your observation that Kokochin is the most solid character from this mini expansion. At first I thought that Altan Ord is the best but, thinking again, I rarely placed lots of trading post so his special power won't trigger that much (at least for me).
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Quote:
I think Kokochin allows you to travel at least three times? Twice using the main board (using her own dice, then the black dice) and then using her special power?
That is correct if we consider that any player (apart from city or contract bonus actions) can travel twice using black dices. I also forgot to mention that when taking goods/camels from the GUNJ KÖKÖCHIN's dice spot other players receive a good of their choice.
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Klaus Knechtskern
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As a general remark one should always play to your characters strenghts
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Kenneth Lewandowski
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Playing Gunj Kokoxhin..

Can you only do the action once, no matter the number on the die? ie.. if I place a 4 on the movement action, can I then move 4 (of course paying the costs on the routes?)
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Klaus Knechtskern
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No, you only move 1 space, regardless of the die face
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Thanee
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Robot74 wrote:
That is correct if we consider that any player (apart from city or contract bonus actions) can travel twice using black dices.
Technically up to four times (with Matteo).

Once with your color and three more times with only black/white dice (if you get them all, of course, which by itself makes it impossible in practice).

Black dice ignore the "no action with same color" restriction.

Bye
Thanee
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John H
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Robot74 wrote:


1-GUNJ KÖKÖCHIN

The player has two exclusive extra dice spots. One spot gives the player 2 camels and 2 goods (they can be identical) and the other spot lets the player travel one space.

What do I think? Adds up new strategies mainly on how to plan your round actions. Since these dice spots are only yours they become more useful by the end of the round when the main board is already full. Keep in mind this character allows you to travel twice per turn (including the board one) and makes you less dependant on the bazaar to get goods.
You forgot to mention one very important downside to Kokochin: When you choose the 2 camels/goods spot on his card, the opponents each get 1 good of their choice! This definitely mitigates his power, and makes using the spot less of a no-brainer.


Robot74 wrote:

3-FRATRE NICOLAO

At the beggining of each round, the player picks 3 gift tokens and keeps only one. The player is allowed to keep two gift tokens once per game.

What do I think? As I said there are two types of gift tokens, the ones you must play immediately and the ones you can keep and play whenever you want. I definately prefer the second type. The character becomes really enjoyable once you have a pair of good bonuses waiting for the perfect moment to be played. Advice: Dont wait too much to use the "take 2 gifts" option.
All sound advice. The gifts are all significantly good, so I think this character is good-- but the lack of ability to plan ahead with Frate Nicolao can hurt if your early game strategy does not mesh with your late game gift draws.


Robot74 wrote:

4-KHAN ARGHUN

The player receives 6 city cards that can be played anytime as a bonus action. No dice are used when playing them. The cards are played as if you had a dice with a six.

What do I think? This character depends totally on the cards he has. Instructions say clearly "show the 6 cards before choosing this character". If the cards include other options than scoring bonuses then this character can become very interesting.
I will beg to differ a bit. Even if the city cards are largely VP based, Arghun can still mnake a very nice haul of points in the endgame to make up for the lack of other benefits. If Arghun goes contracts, He can pull in quite a haul of VPs.


Robot74 wrote:

FINAL THOUGHTS

I like the four characters, but the 1 to 4 numbering responds to my order of preferences.

The first two characters are the ones I enjoyed the most because they encourage you to do something I really enjoy in this game: Travelling. Gunj Kököchin makes travelling easier because of the extra dice spot, and Altan Ord makes travelling more rewarding because of the increasing bonus.

The other two (Fratre Nicolao and Khan Arghun) for me are less straight forward because they depend on what gifts or city cards you get. The luck factor here is higher. With Fratre Nicolao, even when choosing from 3 options, bonuses might come in a bad moment or not come when needed. With Khan Arghun some cards might not even be used at all.

I guess I prefer to know right from the beggining what my special power is offering me. So, even if I really did enjoy all the characters, I'd choose the first two over the rest.
My preference would be essentially the reverse!

Khan Arghun can really dominate even if his city cards are only "OK".

Fratre Nicolao gets a lot of bonuses which are interesting to parse and implement.

Kokochin's best exclusive action space also gives a nontrivial bonus to all other players. The extra 1 space travel move is very nice, so traveling should definitely be a part of his strategy, but I am not sure using some dice here on his own card will leave enough dice to get resources needed for travelling from the main board as well..


I have not played a game with Alten Ord, so I cannot comment on him.


Robot74 wrote:

And about this mini-expansion? Easy to answer: If you like this game there is no reason (none) why you should not get it. In other words: This is a present the designers decided to make us. Just accept it.
NOTE: Check the English rules here https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1453355/english-and-french-...[/q]

I agree wholeheartedly!!

A very nice review! Thanks for taking the time to go over all the characters!
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Alexander Romanov
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Want to ask people thoughts on adding new contracts (with the gifts as reward and small city bonus tile (gifts) in the base set 100% of times or only when FRATE NICOLAO is chosen as one of the characters?
Since setup of the games instruct to seed the board first, it would be tricky to do it en the second case.
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Klaus Knechtskern
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It is intended to mix the contracts in
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Steve G.
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I'll never use the gifts in any of my games if I can help it. This game just doesn't need that kind of luck-based output mechanism IMO.

Gunji is wickedly good. The bonus movement alone makes it likely that she can drop at least seven houses, if not all nine. I completed an insanely long pair of routes with ease and probably could have lapped the board if I'd put my mind to it. The ability to milk resources is just gravy.

Now, the ability description says that her other action spot lets her take two goods. Can they be of the same type?
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Klaus Knechtskern
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yes these can be of the same type, which also is shown in her iconograhpy
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How those these characters fit in the basegame? Are the balanced compared to the older Characters? Or can you better play them apart from the old ones?
 
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Steve G.
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Joel22 wrote:
How those these characters fit in the basegame? Are the balanced compared to the older Characters? Or can you better play them apart from the old ones?
You just mix them in.

As for balance--well, I wouldn't say the characters in the base game are particularly well-balanced against each other. Some characters are always great, others are situational at best (e.g. Kublai Khan).

Like I said, Gunj is pretty much a top-tier contender. I haven't played the others, but Nicalao ties into the whole grab-bag mechanism that the mini-expansion introduces, which makes for a less-strategic, more luck-driven game. So that's a hard pass for me.

Arghun is also a grab-bag character, and you don't know how good he's going to be until you pick him and draw cities. Still, in six draws that are resolved with a six die roll, he should at least have one really great turn or two.

Ord only gets a trickle of revenue that's supposed to snowball, but this is only a five-turn game, after all. You have to drop six houses just to get to one gold. Of course, you can chase contracts that grant free moves, but everybody's trying to jump those. In the end, I think it's probably not worth the work unless something on the board is giving away bonus movement.
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steveg700 wrote:
Joel22 wrote:
How those these characters fit in the basegame? Are the balanced compared to the older Characters? Or can you better play them apart from the old ones?
You just mix them in.

As for balance--well, I wouldn't say the characters in the base game are particularly well-balanced against each other. Some characters are always great, others are situational at best (e.g. Kublai Khan).

Like I said, Gunj is pretty much a top-tier contender. I haven't played the others, but Nicalao ties into the whole grab-bag mechanism that the mini-expansion introduces, which makes for a less-strategic, more luck-driven game. So that's a hard pass for me.

Arghun is also a grab-bag character, and you don't know how good he's going to be until you pick him and draw cities. Still, in six draws that are resolved with a six die roll, he should at least have one really great turn or two.

Ord only gets a trickle of revenue that's supposed to snowball, but this is only a five-turn game, after all. You have to drop six houses just to get to one gold. Of course, you can chase contracts that grant free moves, but everybody's trying to jump those. In the end, I think it's probably not worth the work unless something on the board is giving away bonus movement.
Thx! That make sense to me. For now I stay with the base chracters, maybe I buy the new characters later. Thx!
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Steve G.
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No worries. I think a comparison between Ord and Mercatur would prove illuminating. Mercatur just gets free stuff for waiting on other players to take actions, whereas Ord has to make the effort to travel. I think it's safe to say that Mercatur gets the edge on camels at the very least.

IMO, the design should've just skipped the +1 VP and started him out with +1 coin.
 
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Klaus Knechtskern
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steveg700 wrote:
IMO, the design should've just skipped the +1 VP and started him out with +1 coin.
He had been too strong with that
 
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Steve G.
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KlausKnechtskern wrote:
steveg700 wrote:
IMO, the design should've just skipped the +1 VP and started him out with +1 coin.
He had been too strong with that
In other words...Perfect for Marco Polo!

Like I said, the ability seems to assume the character is dropping way more houses than he's can reliably achieve.
 
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Klaus Knechtskern
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steveg700 wrote:

In other words...Perfect for Marco Polo!

Like I said, the ability seems to assume the character is dropping way more houses than he's can reliably achieve.
Nope he was unbeatable in its earlier incarnations...

Of course your main focus should be travelling when using this character
 
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Robert Ahearne
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steveg700 wrote:
Arghun is also a grab-bag character, and you don't know how good he's going to be until you pick him and draw cities.
This is not true.

The rules say:

New characters rules wrote:
If this character is available, take 6 City cards from those returned to the box, and place them faceup with the available characters.
You see Arghun's cards before you pick him. So you can evaluate how strong he'll be before you decide to play him.

I won a four-player game playing Arghun tonight. I got at least 45 coins from the city cards, and on my last turn I played a city card for 12 victory points. I won by five points.
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